“Tear Ups” Activity Made by My Team at Dr. Calderón’s “Expediting Reading Comprehension” Conference
This past Monday and Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend a two day professional development workshop taught by Margarita Calderón, Ph.D. and Elma Noyola, Associate. The workshop encompassed many strategies for English Language students in the bilingual setting, providing “Evidence-Based Instruction for ELS in Bilingual Settings.” You can check out Dr. Calderón’s work/research/numerous publications at her website entitled English Language Acquisition and Dual Language Instruction; Improving Language, Literacy, and Content Understanding.
I only want to highlight a couple things that Dr. Calderón and her assistant Elma Noylola taught that I felt were beneficial and enlightening to me as an ESOL teacher. The emphasis of this conference pertained to selecting and teaching vocabulary for comprehension in the classroom. While I know that it’s my job as an ESOL teacher to support my students in the realm of language acquisition (which involves learning vocabulary), I found it very beneficial to be reminded of the important of teaching vocabulary before, during, and after students read. Sometimes, as teachers, we become immersed with our lessons and forget to either pre-teach vocabulary or follow up with vocabulary reviews to ensure retention. According to Dr. Calderón “Vocabulary knowledge correlates with reading comprehension. Reading comprehension correlates with procedural and content knowledge. Content knowledge correlates with academic success.” It is also important to note that “Reading comprehension depends on knowing between 90% and 95% of the words in text. “
For this reason, knowing the vocabulary words means that teachers need to explicitly teach vocabulary to their students – not just expose them to vocabulary. One thing that really stood out for me were the 7 simple steps for “Teaching Concepts and Vocabulary.” I plan on printing out and implementing these 7 simple steps in my classroom through the variety of hands-on exercises and strategies that Dr. Calderón and Elma Noyla taught us during the conference.
7 Simple Steps for Teaching Concepts and Vocabulary are:
- Teacher asks students to repeat the word.
- Teacher states the word in context from the text.
- Teacher provides the dictionary definition(s).
- Explains meaning with student-friendly definitions.
- Engages students in activities to develop word/concept knowledge. (Oracy Development takes place during this activity).
- Highlights features of the word: polysemous, cognate, tense, prefixes, etc.
- Reminds when to use it.
Reflection: As an ESOL teacher for over 10 years, I found this conference to extremely helpful when it comes to reminding me of my role as an ESOL teacher. It is to explicitly teach vocabulary to my students. In Virginia, our standards-corresponding to the WIDA Consortium, have four language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Our English Language Development Standards pertain to Social and Instructional Language, Language of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Dr. Calderón’s conference reinforced and enriched my teaching objectives and provided numerous teaching strategies in a way that encompass our Virginia Standards.
I also want to add this final reflection. I think that Dr. Calderón and Elma Noyola’s success to providing such an enriching and beneficial workshop is through their hands-on, explicitly taught workshop. They had us “actively” participate in what they were presenting. For this reason, this workshop never had a dull moment. Both ladies are phenomenal (and humble) teachers. I wrote this following email to both of them:
Dear Dr. Calderón and Elma Noyola,
I attending your two day workshop last Monday and Tuesday. I just wanted to thank you both for taking the time to work with VA teachers in a professional development setting. Thank you Dr. Calderón for sharing with us your research on “Evidence Based Instruction for ELS in Bilingual Settings.” I have attended many workshops/conferences in the past as an ESOL teacher. I can tell you that your workshop-out of many workshops- has been the most helpful and enriching to me professionally.
Mostly, however, I appreciate your humble approaches to presenting/taking the time to share your knowledge/teaching strategies with other teachers. What I observed is that you both have “teachers’ hearts.” Your approach is to not condescend, but to share your knowledge and to enrich others with what you know. I know that Judy Radford mentioned this at the end of the conference too. Dr. Calderón, your approach comes from a person who has spent a life time of putting together brilliant publications and research in the field of teaching ELLs. I was truly humbled to attend your workshop.
Muchísimas gracias a los dos…